How to get an Apostille on documents issued in the U.K.

Créé: Dec 23, 2020 | Updated: Jan 31, 2024

If you intend to get married, set up residence, intend to take up employment, study, or establish a business anywhere outside the U.K., you may be asked to provide official documents so that your marriage, residence, job or business can be registered legally locally. Each official document needed outside the U.K. may also need to be accompanied by what is called an apostille.

This article tells you what an apostille is and how to get an apostille for documents that have been issued in the U.K.

Table of Contents

Apostille on UK-issued Documents


What is an Apostille?

An apostille is a certificate issued by the British government’s Legalisation Service that proves that a particular document from a British source is genuine. It is accompanied by an official seal which can be recognised and verified easily by foreign governments and government departments.

Each official document requested by a foreign government or agency must be accompanied by its own apostille. If there is a language difference, then the apostille may also need to be translated by a certified translator.


When do you Need an Apostille?

An apostille is needed whenever a government agency or employer has to examine a foreign official or legal document. It is important that the document can be verified easily so most governments and official bodies now insist on an apostille being attached to each official or legal document that is requested and issued in a foreign country. Apostilles cannot be forged because whoever is entrusted to issue an apostille is entrusted to check each official document, signatures, seals and watermarks very carefully to make sure it is genuine. This eliminates the problem that most foreign governments and government agencies might have in trying to decide what is genuine and what is not. 


Requirements for Getting an Apostille in the U.K.

To obtain an apostille, you should first check to see whether you need to provide an original document. This is usually the case with certificates like birth and marriage certificates, educational qualifications, etc. Many documents that can be legalised from copies can be simply uploaded onto a website or sent by email. Original documents must be sent by courier or through registered mail enclosed with a self-addressed envelope for the return of your document(s). 

There is a distinction between documents issued by U.K. government bodies and other documents that need to be legalised. Government-issued documents can be sent without any further need for certification. Other documents, especially those that have already been translated should be certified by a notary public or other legal professional before being sent for legalisation.

You will also need to pay for the apostille. The cost depends on whether you use the Legalisation Service directly or a private apostille service provider, whether you need the apostille translated and also whether you are a business or a private individual. 

The time taken to obtain an apostille may be as little as a couple of days or as long as two weeks, depending on how many documents need an apostille and the agency you send your documents to. If you need apostilles in the country of your choice, the lesson is not to leave it to the last minute to obtain them!


How to get an Apostille in the U.K.

Just to make this clear, you do not need an apostille if you have been asked to provide a UK-issued official or legal document for someone or an agency already within the U.K

Apostilles are only needed for documents that have been issued in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales, but requested by a body outside the U.K. With the UK leaving the EU, EU authorities will likely request an Apostille on UK-issued documents if you are registering for EU VAT, getting married abroad or obtaining residency in France, Spain, Germany or any other EU country.

Officially, apostilles are only recognised by countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention. The number of countries belonging to the Hague Convention is currently over 110 with the number increasing regularly. Even countries that are not signatories to the Hague Convention may ask for an apostille, but then follow this up with further legalisation by their own embassies.

Because there are now so many people wanting to travel, marry, get jobs, study or just go and live as a retiree in other countries, there has been a surge in requests for apostilles. Fortunately, this has been matched by an increase in services that can be trusted to get an apostille for you when you need it quickly. 

Note that when apostilles are needed for a country where English is not the official language, they also need to be translated into the language of the country that has requested it. There are excellent apostille services available that can get you the apostille(s) you need, and translation services that can translate your Apostille in the language you need quickly and efficiently. To use a certified translation service, you need to get your apostille first then have it translated by a certified translator. Use Translayte to assist you in swift and professional translation of apostilles. 


Who Provides the Apostille?

In the U.K., the Legalisation Service, an arm of the British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), is the agency that receives, checks and issues apostilles, with the official stamp on them. You can send your documents to them directly, with payment of course, but this can often take longer than using a private apostille service that will take your documents and ensure that they are apostilled often within a day or two of receipt. This service is more expensive than direct contact with the Legalisation Service, but if you are in a hurry or just want to get the bureaucracy over and done with, then this method can certainly be recommended.

Translayte can you obtain an Apostille on a UK-issued document if you also require translation into another language? We can also help you obtain a legalised translation, which is an Apostille applied on a translation to be used abroad.

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